George Richmond, Portrait of Charlotte Brontë, 1850

Jane Eyre: Gender and Affect

Instructor: Rebecca Ariel Porte
Unnameable Books
600 Vanderbilt Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238

“Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!” This exclamation, which appears early in Charlotte Brontë’s enduringly popular novel, Jane Eyre (1847), is the first description of the eponymous heroine as passionate—though certainly not the last. Set in the rapidly changing milieu of Victorian England, Jane’s passions throughout the book variously connote violent emotion, sexual desire, ethical tumult, and suffering. This course will take up these issues, together with those of gender and affect, as we consider Brontë’s most famous novel alongside extracts from its immediate historical contexts and its critical heritage.

Placing the novel in conversation with Michel Foucault’s theories of madness and sexuality, Eve Sedgwick’s work on affect, and postcolonial and feminist responses such as Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, we will ask: What is the novel’s vision of emotion? How does it draw upon or subvert nineteenth-century understandings of gender and consciousness? Why have certain strains of criticism tended to confuse Charlotte Brontë with Jane Eyre? What are the ethics of biographical reading and how does it constrict or enable the practice of literary analysis? Finally, how is passion bound up in the reading and writing of the Victorian novel?

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm
January 31 — February 21, 2017
4 weeks


Registration Closed

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